Office Space: Cool and Creative is Complex and Challenging

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By: Chris Albrow, Vice President, PDS

“Cool” workspaces are a definite trend these days, especially in tech and creative-centric markets like San Francisco. Chris Albrow, Vice President, PDS has headed a number of projects for corporate clients in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Some projects never deviate from the plan and go smoothly but in the vast majority of situations we find that there are usually elements that must be changed and that requires close management of the project and the ability to reassess and adjust, sometimes at a moment’s notice,” he says.

Albrow cites a recent project for a major software provider expanding its presence in San Francisco: “Even while we were assisting the client’s project team with the original assignment – the build out of some newly leased space — the company began planning for two additional phases of expansion, extending our assignment.” he says. “Managing each sequential project and location so that the client emerged with consistent quality and a high impact, connected work environment showcasing their expertise, was a key goal,” says Albrow. “Increasingly, companies are looking to their physical space to celebrate and foster a culture of innovation and are using it to attract and retain key talent,” he adds.

JLL’s 47-person Bay Area PDS team has managed projects for firms like Indiegogo, Lyft and online media firm, Livefyre. But the need to closely manage complex workplace design and construction projects isn’t just the domain of start-ups and technology firms. A recent assignment for Thomson Reuters emphasized the need to breathe new life into the media firm’s San Francisco office while drastically downsizing it’s real estate footprint by integrating “hoteling” and shared workspace.

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PHOTO: Online media company Livefyre’s offices are dominated by open areas designed to enhance collaboration but when employees need solitude, they can easily find it.

“Companies have wildly different cultures and practical needs when it comes to office space, ” says Danielle Friend, Senior Project Manager, PDS. “For example, tech firms often want all their employees under one roof, but we have worked with other clients who prefer to create a shared/flexible work environment because they prioritize work-life balance over employees having a dedicated desk at the office,” she adds. Clients who emphasize shared or “hoteling” work environments are often doing so in order to reduce real estate costs.

What does the future hold when it comes to trends in office build outs? According to Alex Holton, Senior Vice President, PDS there is likely to be a continued push for more open, collaborative space with offices laid out to take advantage of window and sight lines that offer the “right to light” throughout the office. “But, that said, we are beginning to see a little push back on these large collaborative open plan floors in some cases and the need for more private rooms and spaces is coming back into the landscape,” he says. “What’s certain is that as companies walk the delicate line between providing the right types of spaces for their employees while being more efficient with their real estate costs, skilled project managers are a key part of striking that balance,” he adds.

To see some of work that JLL’s PDS team has recently completed, visit their website at


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